Hooks Institute’s policy papers examining voting rights, access and apathy available in print and digital versions

Oct. 22, 2020 — As we head into one of the most critical election seasons in our nation's history, the Hooks Institute presents the sixth edition of its policy papers, “Let Every Voice Be Heard: Protecting the Right to Vote and American Democracy” focusing on voting rights, voter engagement and apathy and tactics to suppress voting.

For this edition of policy papers, the Hooks Institute assembled experts on voting rights, voting access and voter engagement to address important issues critical to preserving our most basic democratic right, the right to vote.

Topics covered include:

• “Voting With Conviction: Voting Rights and Voting Restoration in Tennessee," by Shanna Singh Hughey and Dawn Schluckebier explores the history of efforts to secure voting rights and to confront voter suppression before delving deeply into the most significant example of formal voter disenfranchisement – the potentially permanent removal of voting rights after conviction for a felony. Hughey, an attorney, is the president of ThinkTennessee, and Schluckebier is the director of Advocacy and Government Relations. ThinkTennessee is a Nashville-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research and advocacy organization for pragmatic ideas that create civic and economic opportunities that move Tennessee forward.

• “The Criminalization of the Ballot Box: Navigating the Rise of Voter Prosecution, Charting a Path of Resistance,” by Mitchell Brown describes the use of voter prosecution to punish individuals who have “wrongfully voted,” a practice that can intimidate entire communities from exercising their collective power through voting. Brown, an attorney, is an Equal Justice Fellow, sponsored by the Ottinger Foundation, with the Southern Coalition for Justice in Durham, North Carolina. The mission of the Southern Coalition for Justice includes protecting voting rights of people of color and strengthening civic participation for all.

• “#UpTheVote901 and the Fight for Democracy in Memphis/Shelby County,” by Dr. Earle Fisher and Sijuwola Crawford outlines the challenges of increasing voter engagement to overcome a hidden form of voter suppression – voter apathy. Fisher is the founder of #UptheVote901 and Crawford is the chief operations officer. #UpTheVote901 is a grassroots organization whose mission to is educate, register and empower citizens to improve the social and political conditions in Memphis and Shelby County.

Obtaining Copies of the Policy Papers

For information on obtaining physical copies of the Policy Papers, contact the Hooks Institute at bhi@memphis.edu or 901.678.3974. Digital copies are available by clicking here.

About the Hooks Institute Policy Papers 

The Hooks Institute Policy Papers are published annually about current civil rights, social justice and equity issues. The papers provide a review of the issues and offer recommendations toward solutions for policymakers, civic and business leaders and the greater community.

About the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change 

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute implements its mission of teaching, studying and promoting civil rights and social change through research, education and direct intervention programs. Institute programs include community outreach; funding faculty research initiatives on community issues; implementing community service projects; hosting conferences, symposiums and lectures; and promoting local and national scholarship on civil and human rights. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis. Contributed revenue for the Hooks Institute, including funding from individuals, corporations and foundations, is administered through the University of Memphis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. Visit memphis.edu/benhooks for more information.


Nathaniel Ball | 901.678.3655 l ncball@memphis.edu